BOOK REVIEW ~ MANHUNT


Manhunt: Hunting Britain’s Most Wanted Murderer by Peter Bleksley


Synopsis:
In the early hours of 19 June 2004, 16-year-old Liam Kelly was lured to a location in Liverpool and shot dead. The following year, another Liverpudlian, 22-year-old mother of three, Lucy Hargreaves, was shot dead in her own home. Her partner and their 2-year-old daughter escaped after the house was set alight by leaping from a first-floor bedroom window .

For more than fifteen years, six-foot six-inch, broadly built, ginger-haired Kevin Parle has been wanted by the police for both murders. How could he have evaded national and international crime investigators for so long? Who is harbouring him?

Author and former Scotland Yard detective and undercover cop, Peter Bleksley, is determined to find the answers. He has immersed himself again in the world of serious and organised crime, this time armed only with a pen, a notebook and a mobile phone. He has vowed not to rest until Parle is found.

This gripping story goes behind the scenes of the hit BBC Sounds podcast, “Manhunt: Finding Kevin Parle”.


My thoughts: I found this to be a good true crime book and I was just in the mood for one. It would normally have been a quick read for me, but I’ve not been getting much sleep at all, and found myself reading parts over a lot. The puppy’s barking doesn’t help much either at times, as he’s looking out the window. But it’s a good story, following the based in Britain author as he hunts around the world for a double murderer. No longer as a cop but as a journalist, he’s squeezing his sources to try and get any line on this long-running fugitive/ killer. For true crime fans who enjoy British fugitive stories. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Peter Bleksley, and publisher Ad Lib.



Publisher: Ad Lib Publishers – 218 pages
Publication: Sep 3rd, 2020
My rating: 4/5 STARS



About the Author-  Peter Bleksley joined the Metropolitan Police in 1978. While serving as a detective at Kensington and Chelsea, he began to develop a skill for undercover work and went on to become a founding member of SO10, Scotland Yard's most secretive undercover squad. Since leaving the Police Force he has become a renowned policing and crime expert and written a memoir, The Gangbuster, as well as scripts for radio and television. He has also acted as a consultant on numerous television dramas and documentaries. He can now be seen on television as The Chief on Channel 4's Hunted.

BOOK REVIEW – Hell in the Heartland

Hell in the Heartland:   Murder, Meth, and the Case of Two Missing Girls


The Description:
“There is, in the best of us, a search for the truth, to serve the living and dead alike…Jax Miller is one of those people and Hell in the Heartland is one of those books.”—Robert Graysmith, New York Times bestselling author of Zodiac.

S-Town meets I’ll Be Gone in the Dark in this stranger-than-fiction cold case from rural Oklahoma that has stumped authorities for two decades, concerning the disappearance of two teenage girls and the much larger mystery of murder, possible police cover-up, and an unimaginable truth…

On December 30, 1999, in rural Oklahoma, sixteen-year-old Ashley Freeman and her best friend, Lauria Bible, were having a sleepover. The next morning, the Freeman family trailer was in flames and both girls were missing .

While rumors of drug debts, revenge, and police corruption abounded in the years that followed, the case remained unsolved and the girls were never found.

In 2015, crime writer Jax Miller–who had been haunted by the case–decided to travel to Oklahoma to find out what really happened on that winter night in 1999, and why the story was still simmering more than fifteen years later. What she found was more than she could have ever bargained for: evidence of jaw-dropping levels of police negligence, entire communities ravaged by methamphetamine addiction, and a series of interconnected murders with an ominously familiar pattern.

These forgotten towns were wild, lawless, and home to some very dark secrets.


 

My thoughts– I felt something familiar as I read this book, following along as the tension was building. It seemed like I’d heard of some of the main victims before, but I needn’t have worried, the story was totally new to me. It was a horrific story indeed, and one that kept me involved, reading as various agencies and the author investigated over the years, trying to find out for certain who had committed the awful crimes. The mother of the young lady who was staying over on the night the crimes happened, Mrs. Lorene Bible, kept the momentum moving forward on the case whenever law enforcement would lose interest or lack in leads. There was plenty of push back too, as several in the case received threats of all kinds if they didn’t quit looking into the case and go away, including the author plenty of times. This is one nasty true crime case with bizarre elements to it making it very cruel and taking a long time tormenting the families. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jax Miller, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: Berkley – 336 pages
Publication: July 28th, 2020
My rating: 4/5 Stars


 

The Author– Jax Miller is an American author. While hitchhiking across America in her twenties, she wrote her first novel, Freedom’s Child, for which she won the 2016 Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle and earned several CWA Dagger nominations. She has received acclaim from the New York Times, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and many more. She now works in the true-crime genre, having penned her much-anticipated book and acting as creator, host, and executive producer on the true-crime documentary series Hell in the Heartland on CNN’s HLN network. Jax is a lover of film and music, and has a passion for rock ‘n’ roll and writing screenplays.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ A Convenient Death

A Convenient Death: The Mysterious Demise of Jeffrey Epstein

Description: A must-read for fans of the Netflix docuseries Filthy Rich: The full investigation of the shocking death of billionaire Jeffrey Epstein and those powerful enough to have orchestrated it.

In A Convenient Death, investigative reporters Alana Goodman and Daniel Halper search for the truth of what really happened to Jeffrey Epstein. With access to Epstein’s victims and lawyers, to doctors, Wall Street insiders and law enforcement officers, they reveal the dirty secrets and sinister ties that may have driven someone in Epstein’s circle to take matters into their own hands.

On the morning of August 10, 2019, Epstein, friend and financier to the rich and powerful, was found unresponsive in his prison cell in lower Manhattan, where he awaited his second trial for sexual predation and other crimes. He was rushed to a local hospital and one hour later pronounced dead by suicide. Across the world, a sinister web of powerful billionaires, celebrities, and politicians, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, had reason to sigh with relief at news of Epstein’s death. Having flown on his private planes and visited his many homes—the sites of so many illicit activities—they had much to lose if their transgressions were ever exposed. And now, Epstein was silenced for good.

But cracks in the official story soon emerged. And the questions kept coming:
·    Why did the surveillance cameras in front of Epstein’s cell stop working that night?
·    Why was Epstein’s cellmate transferred out and never replaced?
·    Why was a high-profile prisoner so suddenly taken off suicide watch and left unguarded for eight hours?

Was Epstein murdered to protect the powerful people who feared what he might reveal? The American public deserves to know the truth. With this book, they can finally understand the facts and decide for themselves.


My Thoughts: I didn’t see the Netflix docuseries, but I sure enjoyed this book. I only vaguely knew the major points of the Epstein story and this book was perfect for filling in the details of the story. It’s so well researched it filled me in perfectly on all the backstory I’ve wondered about. It tells about Epstein’s earlier years, how he got his start, what he does for a living, all of that. It also covers the juicy stuff that’s gotten him in trouble previously when he had to go to court and did a plea deal, and also the more current problems he was again facing that had him in the lockup that he never left.

I don’t know what you will think after reading it, but I don’t believe he committed suicide. I think his important friends weren’t willing to risk him talking. Or playing some blackmail games if the camera stories are true. It’s all moot now, of course…but so much speculating went on for a time. This is certainly a book of the times, and a good one to get your mind off the current Covid-19 stuff for a while. Advanced electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, authors Alana Goodman & Daniel Halper, and the publisher.


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Publisher:   Sentinel – 252 pages
Publication:   June 2nd, 2020P
My rating:   5/5 Stars


 

The Authors-  Alana Goodman is a senior investigative reporter at the Washington Free Beacon. Previously, she was a reporter at the Washington Examiner and the Daily Mail, where she broke the story of politician Anthony Weiner’s online relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Goodman was named one of Politico’s “16 Breakout Media Stars.” She has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, and C-SPAN.

Daniel Halper is the bestselling author of Clinton, Inc. Previously, he was Washington bureau chief for the New York Post and online editor for the Weekly Standard. Halper has appeared on the Fox News Channel, Fox Business, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, and numerous radio shows.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ If You Tell

If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen

 

This is a crazy good book by Gregg Olsen about a really dysfunctional family that becomes painful at times to read. The more you read, the more you see it going off in the ditch. You can’t help but watch the train wreck though. The main twistee, Shelly, is a real piece of work. She loves to inflict maximum punishment and humiliation on her victims, who are her own three children, along with a young male nephew she’s taken in, along with her former hairdresser Kathy, who moved in to help out at a time she needed a place to stay.

This is the best of true crime, and it’s hard to put down, wanting to see what’s going to happen next. I really enjoy this author’s non-fiction work, following him for many years.


 

 

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Publisher:    Thomas S. Mercer – 410 pages
Publication:   Dec 1st, 2019
My rating:   5/5 Stars


The Author- #1 New York Times and Amazon Charts bestselling author Gregg Olsen has written more than thirty books, including Lying Next to Me, The Last Thing She Ever Did, and two novels in the Nicole Foster series, The Sound of Rain and The Weight of Silence. Known for his ability to create vivid and fascinating narratives, he’s appeared on multiple television and radio shows and news networks, such as Good Morning America, Dateline, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and MSNBC. In addition, Olsen has been featured in Redbook, People, and Salon magazine, as well as in the Seattle Times, Los Angeles Times, and New York Post. Both his fiction and nonfiction works have received critical acclaim and numerous awards, including prominence on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Washington State officially selected his young adult novel Envy for the National Book Festival, and The Deep Dark was named Idaho Book of the Year.
A Seattle native who lives with his wife in rural Washington State, Olsen’s already at work on his next thriller. Visit him at http://www.greggolsen.com.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Highway of Tears

Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

 

This true crime book is the first by journalist Jessica McDiarmid. She tackles the sad, yet powerful topic of the many missing and murdered young aboriginal females who have disappeared through the years along the road that is called The Highway of Tears in Canada. It gives some good background on the road and on the young women who have disappeared.. Some were eventually found dead, others never were found at all, leaving the families in agony, always to wonder about their loved one. The pain is only intensified when occasionally a young white female would go missing and the response would be so great to help the family search. It just exaggerated the size of the canyon of difference between what happened when an aboriginal family needed help after their child went missing, namely not much. No great outpouring of people and sympathy and funds for flyers and a reward. No helicopters or trained search dogs. Many mostly ignored for the first couple of days, turned away with excuses.

This is a really good read with true crime, racial bias and injustice, and more. You can see that the author has really done a deep dive on the subject   Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Jessica McDiarmid, and the publisher.


 

 

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Publisher: Atria Books – 320 pages
Publication: Nov 12th, 2019
RATED: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Jessica McDiarmid is a Canadian journalist who has written about human rights, racial conflicts and social justice in publications such as the Associated Press, CBC, and The Toronto Star. She grew up near the Highway of Tears and has been investigating the murders for the past five years. This is her first book.


 

BOOK REVIEW ~ Dead Reckoning

First published in 2011, I remember reading this story about Skylar Deleon, former supposed child star and the three murders he was found responsible for and sentenced to death for. But I sure needed this refresher, and the new and updated edition has lots of new information about what’s happened since then, to keep readers in the know. It seems Skylar, a married father of two, is having issues around his gender identity now that he is in prison. This story with the update included has become a bit long, at nearly 450 pages, but is still fascinating to read about what he did, the excuses he gives for why he claims to have done it, and how strangely some criminal minds work.

For true crime fans who like updated stories with a real twist, especially those who like Caitlin Rother, check it out. I was already a fan of Rother’s writing when I read this book, after reading Poisoned Love, and Twisted Triangle by her. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Caitlin Rother, and the publisher.


 

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Publisher: WildBlue Press – 445 pages
Publication: Sept 27th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars


The Author- Caitlin Rother, a daily newspaper reporter for almost twenty years, now writes both fiction and nonfiction books full-time. She was a Pulitzer Prize-nominated staff writer for the SanDiego Union-Tribune, and has been published in Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe, among other publications.

Book Review ~ Hippie Cult Leader

Hippie Cult Leader: The Last Words of Charles Manson

 

This is an engaging book by James Day, who manages to get Charles Manson to call him, then they begin a dialogue where James explains to Manson that he wants to tell his true story, whatever that may be, that Manson still claims has never been told. This begins a year-long discourse between them about everything under the sun, while Day interviewed Manson for a documentary. Which also happened to be the final year of Manson’s life. He also further researched his background, and interviewed many other major figures who were involved in the story back in the day, or who knew Manson some other way.

After learning about Manson’s many “friends” who did favors for him, constantly jockeying for position as his “best friend” but mostly just being used to get Manson’s needs fulfilled out of necessity, Day met some and interviewed them, and spoke to others. They were very loyal, and several sold items like artwork for Charlie online, splitting the proceeds with him. Others had different functions to keep Manson happy, including visits.

There was the usual information in there, but plenty new interviews to keep it interesting. There are lots of topics they discussed and lots of unusual statements by Charlie all through. Many things that have long been staples of the story in books were disputed and reasons given. It is left for you to decide which is correct. A fascinating send off for Manson that leaves us with plenty to think about. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author James Buddy Day, and the publisher.

 

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Optimum Publishing International – 288 pages
Publication: Aug 8th, 2019
RATING: 4/5 Stars

 

The Author- James Buddy Day is a producer and director, known for Sex, Lies & Murder (2018), The Salvation of Todd Bentley (2015) and The Shocking Truth (2017).